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Opinions of Tuesday, 27 July 2021

Columnist: Isaac Ofori

The new LGBTQ+ bill a spat on human rights

Sam Nartey George, Ningo-Pampram MP and lead convener of LGBTQ+ bill Sam Nartey George, Ningo-Pampram MP and lead convener of LGBTQ+ bill

The LGBTQ+ bill is currently at the draft stage and will be laid before parliament in no distant future. The new bill is said to be led by eight legislators of which the Ningo-Pampram MP, Sam Nartey George has been sighted as the lead convener.

Basically, the highlights of the bill seek to criminalize LGBTQ+ and proposing prison sentences for those who engage in it and those who equally promote such activities.

What is even more worrying is the part that incriminates advocacy, group or discussions of the practice of homosexuality. Again, the bill when passed will make discussion on the same in the media space as offensive both in social and mainstream media which could amount to jail terms for not more than ten years.

This has generated media discussion as to whether what the bill intends to achieve will not compromise Ghana’s international relations. Among those who have raised useful concerns is Gabby Asare Otchere-Darko, co-founder of Dankwa Institute, indicating that the bill could get Ghana blacklisted on grounds of excessive hate for people of homosexual origin.

Again, the MP for Madina, Lawyer Francis-Xavier Sosu who is the President for Youth for Human Right in Africa, had said that the bill has issues that every lawyer must be concerned about.

Others have said that certain portions of the bill contradict or contravene existing laws and the manner it has been drafted bans couples from engaging in legitimate sex. Notwithstanding, the MP for Ningo Pampram had insisted that, homosexuality is not a human right but rather a sexual preference that needs to be regulated.

The new bill when passed will be known as ‘promotion of proper human sexual rights and Ghanaian family values bill, 2021’. The bill is cultural sensitive and relative and will be used to regulate human sexual rights and promote Ghanaians cultural values.

Sexual orientation of human beings had remained intimate affairs whether it is regulated or not from time immemorial. The fast move to regulate it and to condemn any form of act between same sexes had come at the backdrop of advocacy, open promotion and identification with LGBTQ+ groups.

The potential danger that lies ahead of us is that when the bill eventually becomes a law, it will become a potential tool and grounds for pushing the public against homosexuals. The hate and the betrayal could make homosexuals be seen as criminals, outcasts and evil rangers because of their sexual orientation and eventually put their lives into perpetual danger and servitude as well as psychological and emotional torture.

This will eventually culminate into interfering with their rights as human beings. Besides, preventing others from sharing their views on issues on sexual orientation will also amount to denial of their right to freedom of speech and opinion.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights declares that human rights are universal – to be enjoyed by all people, no matter who they are or where they live.

The Universal Declaration includes civil and political rights, like the right to life, liberty, free speech and privacy. The Republic of Ghana is a member of the United Nations and the African Union. It has ratified many UN Human Rights Conventions and thus has made binding international commitments to adhere to the standards laid down in the universal human rights documents.

It becomes very protracted and incongruous for a bill to regulate people’s privacy because of the culture of the country. Conclusively, the level of hate emotions that has necessitated the drafting and the intended passing of the bill could further wane Ghana's image in the eyes of international bodies who believe each person's rights must be protected no matter who or how he or she is.

Promoting Ghana’s cultural values cannot be underestimated because of our family values but we cannot deny the fact that the world is gradually becoming a global village where human rights concerns could also not be trodden upon. We will not promote or advocate for people to practice homosexuality but these individuals are human beings who have all the rights to enjoy their privacy or to be identified with what they think best serve their interest without interference or intimidation.

It is very important for human rights aspects of homosexuals also to be included in the bill so that they will not be criminalised unjustly for doing something that they believe makes them happy or fulfilled as human beings.